Recruiting Refocus: Offense

Submitted by Brian on December 5th, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Like the other thing that happens annually, in December the college football fan's attention turns either to a ludicrous coaching search or the slightly less ludicrous enterprise of recruiting. Michigan is downshifting from a couple of extremely large classes in Harbaugh's first two full years, but attrition and a few fifth-year firm handshakes means this shouldn't be a class down in the 14-17 range that Hoke's last two classes were in. This is a good thing, as anyone who surveys this year's roster and results should be able to deduce.

To the various h3 tags!

Numbers

33906073272_65f36b00f4_z

Will Grant Newsome make it back? Please? [Bryan Fuller]

With the announced departures of Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone, and Maurice Ways, Michigan has 69 scholarship players with eligibility next year. That's 16 spots. In addition, it seems likely that Jared Wangler, who has barely played, will explore a grad transfer.

Ian Bunting, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Lawrence Marshall, Noah Furbush, Bryan Mone, and Brandon Watson are also redshirt juniors who may be in limbo; in the past couple years Michigan has told certain potential fifth years that their spot may be contingent on attrition elsewhere. Watson, Furbush, and Mone are almost certainly safe. The other three guys maybe not.

Other attrition from guys who feel buried or have negative extracurricular events is inevitable. Per Sam Webb, JaRaymond Hall has received his release and may end up transferring; there are probably other names. In addition, Chase Winovich has an NFL decision to make and Grant Newsome may not make it back from his injury.

The most likely outcome is a class between 20 and 22 with one or two of the borderline fifth-years leaving. Any transfers in would obviously dent this number.

Needs

There are few areas that are crying needs after Michigan's last two classes stocked the cupboard up and down. With 16 commits in the class already, Michigan's board is narrow. At most spots Michigan is only looking for one or two guys and has a top target and a couple secondary ones they hope to lock down. This recruiting year is going to be much less of a frenetic finish.

A total dearth of Hoke-era QBs means Michigan needs to add numbers, but they've already got two. Tight end is a major priority after passing on the spot a year ago and losing Devin Asiasi; Michigan has two and is looking for more.

As currently constituted the class is most in need of an interior OL or two—currently Michigan just has a couple of Frey-style developmental tackles—and a DT or two. Michigan took a bunch of DTs a year ago but that isn't a spot where you want to take a pass, ever. A wide receiver or two is also a priority; Michigan currently has none in the class.

Position by position:

Quarterback

Michigan won a recruiting battle with various SEC schools for Joe Milton, a "holy specimen" with nigh infinite upside... who's completing under half his passes as a senior. The history of QBs who don't see their completion percentage go up over the course of their high school career isn't great, but with Peters and McCaffrey ahead of Milton this seems like as good a time as any to take a Dave Kingman cut at a high-ceiling prospect.

Then Michigan was just watchin' some high school football on ESPN...

The line of communication between Michigan’s coaching staff and Kevin Doyle had been somewhat quiet, until Pep Hamilton and Jim Harbaugh spent time watching Concord De La Salle vs. St. John’s College High School on ESPN.

They watched Doyle — a three-star 2018 pro-style quarterback from St. John’s — throw for more than 300 yards against one of the top prep programs in America, one day before U-M’s season-opener against Florida in Texas.

“And then I got a text from coach Harbaugh asking me to give them a call,” Doyle told the Free Press recently.

...and decided they should go after Kevin Doyle. One glance at the depth chart should confirm the need for two QBs in the class; Doyle isn't a recruiting superstar who has the leverage to demand he's the only QB class or the profile to scare off Milton. He is a dude who played the second toughest high school schedules in the country, per USA Today, and helped his team to their first league title since the 1980s.

Doyle is the relatively low-ceiling, high-floor prospect but he's still a battle-tested 6'4" dude.

Michigan is almost certainly done with high school recruits at the position but if former target Dorian Thompson-Robinson decommits from UCLA after Jim Mora's firing they might kick the tires. Obviously, the potential addition of Shea Patterson would be big news for the program; it's less big for 2018 QB recruits since Patterson would block them for at most one year after their inevitable redshirts.

Running Back

Michigan is likely done here, as well. They flipped GA RB Christian Turner from what seemed like an inevitable Notre Dame commitment this summer and then took a flier on MO RB Hassan Haskins. Like a number of other recruits in the class, Turner's recruitment rather belies his rankings, with a lot of major offers and a near-ND commitment. Haskins is a true sleeper who didn't see any big offers until Michigan stepped in. He obliterated local competition en route to a 2,000 yard season; he's still ranked in the 1300s by the 24/7 composite.

Neither guy is going to have to carry much of the load next year, and Michigan isn't in on any big-time prospects. They're likely done here.

Wide Receiver

6_7664106

JaMarr Chase or sleeper [247]

Nobody is currently in the boat after Michigan took a celebrated four-WR class last year. The early departure of Nate Johnson opens up at least one spot, and two guys wouldn't be a surprise. Michigan could use a slot type; they took Oliver Martin last year but he's an inside-outside guy and not a punt maestro and screen jitterbug.

Michigan does not seem to be the favorite for anyone with whiz-bang rankings unless the current chatter about LA WR JaMarr Chase, who visited last weekend and was the subject of a commit rumor, holds up. In this case it might since Chase decommitted from Florida in the aftermath of Jim McElwain's firing and the primary competition at the moment is TCU. TCU's an excellent program but it's not demonstrated the ability to straight up buy guys like LSU.

The rest of Michigan's known WR targets are pipe dreams like Amon-Ra St. Brown (who 24/7 isn't even listing M was "warm" for anymore) and Jalen Hall,  one of those kids who is and has been going to USC since the beginning of time but wants to stretch it out. The only guy they've had on campus is MO WR Kamryn Babb, and that was back in April.

Unless Michigan does get Chase they'll be swinging at a sleeper or two or trying to flip a guy late. Expect a three star you haven't heard of just yet, and maybe two. If Michigan does pick up Ole Miss receiver Van Jefferson he'd arrive as a redshirt junior, functionally replacing Nate Johnson on the roster. Jefferson would almost certainly mean M takes just one WR in the class, what with Oliver Martin and Tarik Black redshirting.

Tight End

Michigan has a commit from TX TE Mustapha Muhammad, a highly touted guy who was clearly one of Michigan's top targets from the get-go. ESPN has him in the top 50; Scout has him 66th. Rivals is enigmatic. He's a highly athletic FLEX sort.

They've also got a random 6'6" New England QB named Luke Schoonmaker who gets ranked like a QB in New England does. Because he is a rando recruited by Jim Harbaugh everyone kind of assumes he's going to be an NFL draft pick, and this site includes itself in this everyone.

Michigan is still recruiting the position and picked up a couple crystal balls for GA TE Tommy Tremble after his visit last weekend. Tremble has been to Notre Dame twice this fall and is the main competition; Tremble is another three-star with an offer list that does not match.

Offensive Line

6_5141931

Hayes plays TE for his high school team and is thus max Frey [247]

Michigan has instate OL Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes committed. Both are very much in the Greg Frey mold of highly athletic tackles who need to pack on weight before they can see the field. Both are being held back by some absurd Rivals rankings; they're 20th and 16th in the state. 24/7 has both on the verge of the top 100.

Michigan lost IN OL Emil Ekiyor to Alabama and thus has no interior OL in the class. A bumper crop of OL last year means Michigan doesn't have a huge need, and so far they've focused almost exclusively on tackles. Because obviously.

Michigan's top target is FL OL Nicholas Petit-Frere, a composite five star in the direct center of the Frey bullseye. Petit-Frere is a 270 pound athletic tackle in Tampa, Frey's main out-of-region stomping ground. And his last name translates to "little brother," which means he and only he can break the Mike Hart curse.

Also in "players exactly like you'd expect Greg Frey to recruit": Michigan offered Arizona State commit and CA OL Jarrett Patterson recently, and his recruitment went zero to 60 in a flash. He already fielded an in-home from Drevno and is visiting this weekend. Arizona State just hired a guy who hasn't been in college for 30 years and doesn't know his new school's mascot is a devil...

...so unless Patterson is inexplicably enthused about playing for Dave Brandon The Program, Michigan has an excellent shot there. UCLA is also lurking around the edges; they seem a more likely landing spot for Patterson than his actual commitment.

Contact between Michigan and enormous Aussie man-mountain Daniel Faalele has rather fallen off, unfortunately. If Michigan does decide they have a spot for an interior OL, I wonder if they'll poke around in-state Syracuse commit Tyrone Sampson. The lack of early interest from not only Michigan but MSU for an Army AA guy might mean he's got grade issues, though.

Offensive Upshot

Michigan is close to done on this side of the ball. Leaving aside transfers, they'll probably add a wide receiver and one or two OL; a third tight end is also a possibility. Chase and Petit-Frere plus anyone else would be a good finish.

Comments

AC1997

December 5th, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

I'm firmly in the JBB should stay category because we don't have the luxury of letting OL go, even if they were mediocre.  I do think he left the OSU game due to injury based on what I saw watching it.  Even if he's a back-up insurance policy I think that's needed.  

Likewise, I'm confused about the "we need a third TE" statements in here.  First of all, keep Bunting if you want another TE on the depth chart since you have two recruits already.  Secondly, we have SEVEN guys on the depth chart at TE.  While I know we play a lot of them, that's a significant portion of your scholarships for one position - especially assuming we play more WR next year.  You also have the ability to use the current OT recruits as a blocking TE if necessary.  

I think that 3rd TE spot should go to a DL/OL spot because we never have enough depth there.  Maybe a safety too.  

bronxblue

December 5th, 2017 at 2:00 PM ^

This feels like a class that doesn't blow the rankings away but has a lot of solid contributors. I like both tackles if Michigan really does go full Frey, and I have to think they get a WR or two considering just how many big programs sort of fell apart and kids left.

mgolf4

December 5th, 2017 at 5:28 PM ^

With many a rumor of a soon-to-be junior WR transferring, we definitely have to pick up at least one WR in this class. That would leave two upperclassmen WRs in 2018 and only six scholarship WRs total (not including Schoenle possibly getting a scholarship). 

DT is a huge need as well. Right now there are seven on scholarship with Marshall, Mone, Dwumfour, Irving-Bey, Jeter, Paea (if he plays DL instead of OL), and Solomon. That would make for five non-freshman scholarship DTs in 2019 if they don't get a commitment in 2018. 

Bigly yuge

December 5th, 2017 at 10:50 PM ^

The strategy for this class has been a little difficult to decipher. I am curious as to why we went after so many highly rated recruits in 16’ and 17, but this year we seem to be taking a different approach. I fully trust Harbaughs judgement as well as his player development. I just wonder if his strategy changed at all and if so, why?

war-dawg69

December 6th, 2017 at 11:46 AM ^

No reason to have guys on scholarship that are not good enough to see the field i.e. Malzone. Harbaugh is trimming the fat and it is the way it should be. We need scholarships for athletes that are going to play and produce period. Of course there will be players on the depth chart but will produce when it is their time to shine.

Michigan has several players that if looking for playing some time in their careers should transfer. A lot of these guys were taken in Michigan's first recruiting cycle and there are the fifith year seniors. With at least three guys from Ole Miss transferring in there will be allowances made up somewhere and I doubt it will be in the recruiting class. Look for several more transfers and fifth year guys not coming back.

When someone said Harbaugh is taking the gloves off I believe this to be only part of it. I think he will hold coaches more accountable and expect a lot more out of them, including the recruiting trail. I also here him starting to hold the players more accountable. Being shown the door is part of it, but look for practices to become a whole lot more physical and taxing. Competition isgoing to be at the forefront. As the talent begins to grow expect the competition and intensity to grow.